Casting director turned director Mukesh Chhabra doesn’t know whether he should be happy or sad.
“Dil Bechara is my first film as a director. Ideally, I should be nervous excited and happy. But all my joy has been drained by the fact that the person who guided me through the making of this film, without whom I’d have never turned director is no longer with me. Sushant should be here, holding my hand to the release. Without him, everything feels unreal, incomplete,” Mukesh’s predicament is hard to put in words.
But he’s trying.
“I’m trying to wade through the process of release. All this is new to me. And Sushant abandoned when I needed him the most. Just talking about him makes me emotional. I called him Beta. He was very close to me and also my mother. He loved the parathas she made. She misses him as much I do,” says Mukesh as he recalls how he turned director.
“It would have never been possible without Sushant. When I got the chance to direct a remake of The Fault In Our Stars I agreed only because I knew Sushant would be my lead. He didn’t hear or read the script. This was the first time he had ever accepted a film without going through a narration. Only when we reached Jameshdpur for shooting, just three days before shooting was to start he asked for us to go through the script.”
Why Jamshedpur? “Because I wanted a small North Indian town with all its cultural diversity. In Jamshedpur, you will find Bengalis and Tamils living side by side. I wanted the romance to start in a town like this and then make its journey to Paris.”
How much of the original has Mukesh retained in his remake? “It is an official remake. So the subject and characters are the same. But I’ve Indianized the original, made it more emotional, added songs. Now I am waiting to see the audiences’ reaction to it. I realize it is a big responsibility to make sure that Sushant’s fans are not disappointed. I hope I’ll succeed in making them happy. I can feel Sushant guiding me. I speak to him when I get very nervous.”